Record Heat Endangers Plants

1 decade 7 months 3 weeks ago February 02, 2006 Feb 2, 2006 Thursday, February 02 2006 Thursday, February 02, 2006 5:02:23 PM CST in News

Although most people enjoy record-high winter temperatures, they might not be good for mid-Missouri gardens.

"This is just making me nervous," explained MU horticulturist Chris Starbuck. "It's way too early."

Early warm weather could damange plants if an extreme cold front comes through the area.

"The concern I have is, we still have a lot of winter left," added Starbuck. "And, the problem with that is, woody plants like this, if it happens very quickly, they have lost their cold tolerance and are very susceptible to freezing injury."

A cold snap could cause dieback, damage buds, or freeze bark which would not let plants get nutrients. Buds on many trees, such as magnolias, have already started to form, something that doesn't usually happen until sometime in March.

Starbuck said there's not much to do to help plants. The only reprieve can be from the weather.

"It'd be nice to see more near-normal temperatures," said MU Climatologist Pat Guinan, "so the vegetation won't be harmed if we do have an arctic outbreak suddenly after this warm-weather pattern we've been experiencing."

Missouri's average temperature in January was 41 degrees, 13 degrees above the usual level.

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